But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions;…
I. They endured a great fight of afflictions, PARTLY BY BEING A GAZING STOCK, BOTH IN REPROACHES AND AFFLICTIONS.
1. They were reproached. Thus they might be used either by words or deeds. For so to speak or do anything that tends to our disgrace is to our reproach. Perhaps they called them sectaries, heretics, apostates, innovators, seditious persons, and also did so account them, and in this respect did hate them. These reproaches in themselves were bitter and grievous, yet they were more grievous because of afflictions, for they afflicted them by scourging, imprisoning, banishing them.
2. Yet these were made still more grievous, because they did reproach and afflict them not so much privately as publicly, in open view, to make their shame and ignominy the greater. They brought them as it were upon a stage, and as into a theatre, where multitudes, even thousands, might gaze upon them, revile them, scourge them, and make a sport of their sufferings. Every one must take notice of them as base persons, troublers of the world, the refuse and scum of mankind, and abhor them.
3. This was part of their great fight, and a great fight it was, because naturally we much desire to preserve our credit, honour, and reputation, which to some high spirits which the world terms generous is dearer than life, for men choose rather to die than live in disgrace and lose their honour. And as we desire respect in the world and abhor ignominy and contempt, so we love our liberty, ease, and peace, and are very unwilling to lose them.
II. Partly they endured a great fight WHILST THEY BECAME COMPANIONS OF SUCH AS WERE SO USED.
1. Some part of the Church doth suffer sometimes and not another. The storm which fell upon them was past, yet another falls upon their brethren, and they are reproached and afflicted sad made a gazing stock as they had been.
2. They became companions of these, for they owned them, were grieved inwardly for their sufferings, and did relieve and comfort them. By doing thus they were exposed to the derison of others: their former sufferings might be called passion, this compassion.
3. This also made a part of the great fight: for Satan's design in this was to strike a terror into them, and to let them know what a dangerous and restless condition they were in if they should continue to be Christians. And if he could not daunt and discourage them, yet he would at least grieve and vex them, for he knew the passion of their brethren would be their compassion, and that in their suffering they would suffer.
Parallel VersesKJV: But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;